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Most City of Portland offices will be closed Monday, May 27, in observance of Memorial Day.

Holiday garbage and recycling tips

News Article
An illustration showing a christmas tree with all of the decorations removed
How to recycle common holiday waste, what to do with your tree after the holidays, and pickup delays due to holidays and winter weather.
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Holiday collection delays

Christmas and New Year’s Day are on Mondays this year, which means collection will be delayed by one day for all Portland customers, Monday through Friday. Friday customers, your collection will happen on Saturday.

The City's free garbage day reminders – available by email, app, text, and phone call – will reflect the adjusted schedule for the weeks of Christmas and New Year's.

Sign up for garbage day reminders

How to sort holiday waste

Next to a garbage can icons is shown: a plastic padded mailing envelope, holiday string lights, and plastic gift cards. Next to a recycling icon is shown: a cardboard box, wrapping paper, and paper holiday cards. next to a compost icon (leaf and apple core) is shown: A snowflake shaped frosted cookie, a fruitcake, an orange gourd, a pinecone, a few holly leaves, and a pine tree branch.

Unsure about which bin to put things in? Here's a quick guide:

Garbage

  • Envelopes with plastic padding (even if the outside is paper).
  • Foil or glitter-covered wrapping paper and gift bags.
  • Bubble wrap, plastic “air pillows,” and packing peanuts.
  • Plastic gift cards and any plastic not shaped like a bottle or round tub.
  • String lights, ribbon, yarn, and cords – these are called “tanglers” because they get tangled in the machines that sort recyclables and cause the whole process to shut down.

Recycling

  • Wrapping paper and gift bags made only of paper (no foil or glitter).
  • Cardboard boxes: It's ok to leave tape and labels on boxes. Flatten boxes and cut up large boxes so they fit inside your blue recycling bin. 

Compost

  • Include the food: Plate scraping, cooking scraps, and food that’s gone spoiled or moldy can all go in.
  • Holiday trees, wreaths, and greenery, as long as all decorations, lights, and wire have been removed first. (Fake or “flocked” trees should go in the garbage.)

Learn more from Metro: Can I recycle this? Holiday Cleanup 101.

Holiday tree disposal

How to set out your Christmas tree for compost pick up

For real trees, first remove all trimmings from your tree, including lights, ornaments, tinsel, and tree stand.

Then you have two options:

  1. Set out your whole tree (6 feet or shorter), next to your compost bin, for a $5.25 charge.
  2. Cut your tree into pieces (3 feet or shorter), and place in your compost bin for no extra charge

Artificial trees and trees “flocked” with fake snow should be disposed of as garbage. To set out a whole artificial or flocked tree, call your garbage company for a cost estimate.

There are also nonprofit fundraiser pickup and drop-off options for real trees: Call 503-234-3000 or Ask Metro to learn more.

Extra trash

If you end up with more trash than can fit in your bin, you can set out extra trash bags or cans (32 gal. and 55 lbs. max) for $5.85 each.

For large, bulky items that don’t fit into your garbage bin (like furniture or mattresses), call your garbage company for a cost estimate (prices vary). If the item is still in good condition, consider donating it: Call 503-234-3000 to find donation organizations, drop-off locations, and pick-up options.

Extra recycling

Cardboard: First, flatten boxes and cut cardboard into smaller pieces to fit as much as possible into your recycling bin. When your recycling bin is full (the lid should still be able to shut fully), then flatten all remaining cardboard, bundle it together, secure the bundle with tape, and lean the bundle against your blue bin.

There is no additional cost for extra cardboard. However, cardboard set outside of your bin can get blown by wind and create litter, and it slows down collection drivers, making it harder for them to collect everyone's recycling on time. So please only set cardboard outside of your bin when you have made every effort to fit it into your bin.

Paper, metal, plastic: Put these materials in a cardboard box or a paper bag and set them next to your blue recycling bin. There is no charge for extra recycling.

Glass: You can set out any type of rigid plastic container filled with glass bottles and jars, for no additional charge. A 5-gallon bucket works well, with a few holes drilled in the bottom to let rain through.

Renters

If you rent a house, ask the landlord before setting out whole trees, extra garbage, or bulky items. 

If you live in an apartment building and are looking for a place to drop off your Christmas tree, call 503-234-3000 or Ask Metro to find the nearest drop-off location to you

Reduce and reuse before you recycle

Getting rid of holiday decorations or gifts you don’t love? Donate them to one of Portland’s many non-profit thrift stores or offer them for free to neighbors via Nextdoor, Buy Nothing Group, or Craigslist.

Looking for gifts, holiday decorations, or an additional chair to host friends and family this year? Shop at one of Portland’s many local thrift shops for great finds and low prices.

By reducing, reusing, and recycling right, you’re saving natural resources, reducing pollution, and creating jobs: Thank you!

Weather delays

A blue recycling cart, green compost cart, and gray trash cart are shown covered in snow. A snowman appears next to them, instructing people to "Leave bins at the curb" in case of snow or ice.

In case of snow or ice, leave your bins at the curb. Your garbage company will come as soon as they can.

During extreme weather, find the most up-to-date information about delays or other changes to garbage service on our winter weather page.

Sign up for free garbage day reminders – available by email, app, text, and phone call – to get alerts when collection is delayed due to snow or ice.

(If you only want weather-related alerts and not weekly reminders: Go to the garbage day reminders page, enter your address, choose "Get a reminder," and then choose the last option, "Service alerts only." The Service alerts only option is only available by email.)

Sign up for garbage day reminders